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A Better Way of Doing Business

November 10, 2015

Much of today’s organisational management mind-set (whether corporate, non-profit, government institution or start-up) is rooted in a flawed logic about how the world works.

‘We have been, and still are, in the grips of a flawed view of reality – a flawed paradigm, a flawed worldview – and it pervades our culture putting us on a biological collision course with collapse’ – Ray Anderson, once voted America’s most admired CEO.

Central to this flawed logic is a control-based, oppositional-mindset with a tendency to polarize and reduce life’s tensions into separations: organism separate from environment, God separate from Creation, us separate from them, yin separate from yang, mind separate from matter, rational analytical thought separate from embodied and intuitive ways of knowing.

‘We have created a sufficiently strong propensity not only to make divisions in knowledge where there are none in Nature, and then to impose the divisions on Nature, making the reality thus comfortable to the idea, but to go further, and to convert the generalisations made from observation into positive entities, permitting for the future these artificial creations to tyrannise over the understanding.’  Henry Maudsley

This ‘logic of separation’ has profound implications for Western philosophic and socio-economic systems culminating in the ‘mind-divorced-from-matter’ materialism of the Age of Reason still pervading our worldview today. The origins of Western philosophy, however, drew from a deeper wisdom that transcended this ‘logic of separation’ – for instance, Pythagoras, Parmenides and Plato sought to attune with the ‘wisdom of Sophia’ permeating throughout Nature, a gnosis of life’s tensions transcending the shallow ego-mind’s reductive tendency to polarize and separate.

nature sustainability

And yet, over time, due to various contributing factors, our culture has become mired in this ‘logic of separation’. Our ways of knowing and attending to life have been acculturated at deep and partly unconscious levels, infecting how we relate with our own sense of self, each other and the world around us.

By example, there is a deeply held philosophical believe amongst the well-educated in the West that decision-making ought to be separated from the undertaking of the work itself: strategic thinking and layers of management-control are separate from labour, and labour itself is separated and reduced into departmental ‘economies of scale’ for normalisation, management and control. This separation is espoused by the scientific management thinking of Taylorism, industrial and post-industrial productization, and the quantification-obsessed ethos of management-by-numbers. It is a reductionist, mechanistic logic: hallmarks of the Age of Reason.

Today we find all too many organisations caught up in a top-down, hierarchic, KPI-obsessed, silo’ed, control-based mentality. While it is assumed that such an approach to work enhances efficiencies and effectiveness, the reality is that it undermines and erodes the greatness of our workplaces, turning them into places of drudgery, stress, political infighting and ineffective bureaucracies.

Instead of focusing on our sense of purpose and quality of value-creation for stakeholders hand-in-hand with the undertaking of enjoyable enriching productive work, attention is taken-up with ‘people management’, ‘activity management’, ‘production management’, ‘budget control’, techniques aimed at managing units and numbers. The inter-relational, holistic and humane spirit of work is reduced into little more than reporting line items.

As organisational specialist John Seddon notes:

‘command-and-control management has created service organisations that are full of waste, offer poor service, depress the morale of those who work in them and are beset with management functions that not only do not contribute to improving the work, but actually make it worse. The management principles that have guided the development of these organisations are logical – but it’s the wrong logic.

Peter Senge notes that the biggest challenge facing leaders and managers today is this transformation from linear, mechanistic, control-based logic to systemic, organic, emergent, embodied ways of operating and organizing where the organization is understood as a flourishing living being rather than a mechanistic machine.

1 RIP business

The good news is, we are on the cusp of a radical sea-change in how we perceive our ways of operating and organizing:

Economies of scale                                         Economies of flow

Linear thinking                                                 Systemic thinking & being

Silo’ed units of production                         Systems of inter-relations

Measurement-focused                                 Purpose-focused

Dominator-model                                           Partnership-model

Machine-mentality                                         Living organization

‘The organisation of the future will be an embodiment of community based on shared purpose calling on the higher aspirations of people.’ – Dee Hock, founder of VISA

Attempting to transform our ways of operating and organising towards humane, sustainable businesses without addressing this flawed mind-set is like applying the preverbal Band-Aid to a systemic illness. Isolated initiatives such as ‘wellbeing at work’, ‘mindfulness in the workplace’, ‘talent management’, ‘open innovation’, ‘closed loop economics’ or ‘corporate responsibility’ are useful in themselves and can have knock-on catalytic affects, yet if they leave the underlying culture and ethos of the organisation unchecked they ultimately fail to deliver transformative change towards flourishing, resilient firms of the future.

Image of 7 shifts to business

We need to deal with root causes as well as the detrimental downstream effects this logic creates: unsustainable operations, mental health issues, lack of moral, low levels of creativity and performance, inflexibility in times of volatility, etc.

Firm of the Past                                                                                                Firm of the Future

Top-down hierarchy                                                                       Locally-attuned

Control ethos                                                                                    Learning ethos

Remote management by numbers                                          Distributed decision-making

Bureaucratic                                                                                      Participatory, self-organizing

Short-term maximization for shareholders                         Value-creation for stakeholders

Competition-orientated                                                                              Collaboration and co-creativity

Private ownership and control                                                  Open-source, open-innovation

Self-preservation/maximization                                                              In service of something greater

Exploitation and enslavement                                                  Empathy and empowerment

To change management thinking one cannot just change the roles and measures (although that helps). To truly change our ways of organizing and operating we need to change our philosophy, our ways of thinking and knowing, our perception of how the world works and our sense of place and purpose within this deeply wise world.  No small feat.

Let’s take a moment to ask ourselves these questions:

Why are we here doing what we are doing?

What are we in business for – what is the real underlying purpose?

What value are we delivering to society? What about to the wider fabric of life?

Do we wish our activities to help or hinder life?

What do we deeply love doing?

How can our work resonate more strongly with this love and a deeper sense of purpose?

There are many examples of organisations varying in size and sector who are actively challenging yesterday’s logic while exploring new ways of operating and organizing: Semco, Sounds True, Natura, Patagonia, Weleda and Interface to name a few.

There is a metamorphosis in our midst. As with the metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly, the initial stages of transformation are resisted by the incumbent dominant paradigm, yet, as more ‘imaginal cells’ of the ‘new way’ form into clusters, a tipping point is reached where wider understanding and acceptance of these transformative ways operating and organizing systemically form.

We live in a volatile time of great potential. The question is, do we wish to be a part of the emerging future or hold-on fearfully to old ways of working? Time to transform: it’s a time to let go of old ways and allow the new to emerge; leading with courage beyond fear.

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A Metamorphosis In Our Midst

October 23, 2015

Flourishing future-fit business requires us to go beyond the surface and symptomatic into transforming mind-sets at deep and partly unconscious levels.

leonardo 2

Since the industrial revolution, we have achieved great feats of economic, social and technological advancement for which we can be proud. The structures and strictures of old have served us well in many material ways. But times they are a changin’. We now face increasing volatility: enter the world of commodity spikes, resource scarcity, environmental destruction, social inequality, economic turbulence, population and migrant pressure, changing demographics, the internet of things, climate change, and more.

We all know that at one level our current business paradigm has created wealth and yet has also exacerbated the imbalances, tensions and volatility we face today. We also know that the business models and management approaches that served us well in the past are no longer fit for organisations wishing to not just survive but thrive in 2020 and beyond.

Conferences, think-tanks, research papers, workshops, forums and expert roundtables across the globe are exploring the implications these challenges have on how we operate and organise. Yet, in well-intended desire to find solutions, we all-too-often find ourselves caught up in the very mind-set that contributed to problems in the first place. We address our sea of challenges at face-value and in largely silo’ed and reductive ways, skimming over the deeper inter-relational corruptions these problems are symptomatic of.


Whether it’s the shift to more purposeful business, dealing with the Millennial Age, CSR, or wellbeing-at-work, what lies beneath many of these initiatives is a deeper underlying metamorphosis of epic proportions.  The more conscious we communicators, change agents, cultural catalysts and leaders are of the tectonic shifts these surface waves are symptomatic of, the more successful and capable we will be in redesigning for resilience.

Let’s take a step back and pause for a moment in our hectic schedules, breathe deep and really tune-in to how these different aspects are all part-and-parcel of something epic emerging within each of us, our teams and organisations. Here are just two of these ‘symptoms’- CSR and Wellbeing-at-work:

Sustainability/CSR: on the surface, this is about being more efficient, effective, responsible and future-fit in a volatile world of finite resources precariously pressed up against natural limits.  Yet as we seriously get to grips with this, we begin to reveal a deep-seated need to shift from ‘take-make-waste’ linearity to ‘regenerative’ ways of creating and delivering value. This shift prompts us to ask the question: Are we simply in the business of creating value for our selves at the expense of others or can we move beyond merely reducing negative impact towards contributing positively to the wider fabric of life? We begin to challenge status-quo assumptions and realise that we can (and must) do things differently. Take-make-waste linearity and its extractive, reductive logic typified by trade-offs, separation and exploitation begins to be exposed for what it is – an out-dated worldview which we have to snap out of. With this, begins a deeper philosophical (yet no less practical) inquiry into our sense of place and purpose within this world.


‘Too many people think in terms of trade-off, that if you do something which is good for you it must be bad for someone else. That’s not right; it comes from an old way of thinking about how the world works… We have to snap out of that old thinking and move to a new model.’ – Paul Polman, CEO Unilever

Mindfulness/Wellbeing-at-work: on the surface, this is about stress reduction and morale boosting; it’s about ensuring the workforce is healthier mentally and emotionally, and so more creative, resourceful and resilient. Yet as we engage ourselves in wellbeing practices, we begin to realise the detrimental effect of an overly extractive and domineering ‘ego-awareness’. We come face-to-face with our own masks, acculturations and narrowed-down perceptions of ‘self’ as separate from and in competition with the world around us. And with proper practice, we can start to transcend these masks, enriching our ‘ego-awareness’ with a more soulful consciousness that beckons us to ask the question:  What is my soul calling?  With this comes a conscious shift away from an essentially Social Darwinist dog-eat-dog, dominate or be dominated, individualistic worldview towards wider vistas of how life really is beyond the narrowing confines of our overly dominant ego-awareness. Our soul-calling prompts a quest, a voyage of self-discovery in becoming more fully human, and in the process, more in harmony with life.

‘Our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic selfhood. As we do so, we will not only find joy – we will also find our path of authentic service in the world’ – Parker J Palmer, leadership specialist

There is a profound shift underway in our mythos and logos, transforming the cultural narratives that inform our ways of operating and organising.  Deep and complex influences within our own psyche, our collective consciousness and in the structures pervading our organisations are being challenged to radically reshape.  As communicators and catalysts we can help foster meaningful conversations by creating space and time for ourselves and others to go deeper beyond the superficial. But the real work is our own personal embarkation upon a quest of ‘becoming human’: getting in touch with our truer nature and deeper self. Only then will we be able to help catalyse lasting transformation in our teams, workspaces, organisations and stakeholder ecosystems.

‘We cannot do great things; we can only do small things with great love.’ – Mother Teresa

Let’s start to listen to what is emerging within us, within our teams and stakeholder groups. Let’s start to reveal ourselves by removing our masks and embracing our vulnerability with courage, while engendering trust in our teams. This is the front-line of conscious communications beyond projections, where we truly commune with each other soul-to-soul through small steps of love.

human nature morphesus

As Morpheus said in the film The Matrix, ‘there is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path’. It’s time for each of us to take personal responsibility for the quality and authenticity of our communication, to self-sense how deeply we are connecting with our selves and others as we go about our daily business. Now is a great time to become who we were born to be.

To explore ‘the new paradigm’ further, join the Face Book community here



Watch two short videos about The Illusion of Separation and The Nature of Business


View a presentation on ‘A Radical Review of Reality’ here

Breaking Through the Other Side

September 29, 2015

Oh, what a night: champagne upon arrival, a bubbling hot tub in the garden bar and great live music, all set within the urban-chic surrounds of Proud Camden. Like any atmospheric event, the venue, music and environ contribute only part of the magic; the concoction of people a vital contributor. And what a vibrant mix of forward-thinking entrepreneurs, thought leaders and cultural provocateurs there were at last week’s launch party of the UK’s B-Corps (Benefit Corporations). This cohort of companies join a fast-growing global community of more than 1,400 Certified B Corps from 42 countries and 130 industries working together toward one unifying goal: to redefine success in business.

human london sky line

Bart Houlahan, the founder of B-Labs (a non-profit focused on making for-profit businesses a force for good in the world) spoke passionately about how capitalism is transforming in front of our very eyes, and how being a B-Corp is not just about changing the organisation’s legal constitution from a focus on shareholders to serving all stakeholders, including society and the environment. It is about being part of a community of like-minded, life-serving innovators: business people who seek to create real value for present and future generations. This kindred-spirited community provides a nurturing space for sharing stories, experiences and learnings across sectors and sizes (by example Ben & Jerry’s, Method, Patagonia, Etsy, Seventh Generation, Swarm, The Big Issue and Volans are all certified B-Corps). Such a forward-thinking community is prototyping the future while dealing with the challenges of the day, ensuring our organizations do not simply survive the volatile seas ahead but thrive, going beyond merely limiting negative impact toward regenerative business enhancing the fabric of life. This is not utopian pipe-dream talk; it’s the practical reality of people rolling-up their sleeves as they manifest soul-dreams today.

overcome change

Alluring as it was to be caught up in the electric excitement of this launch party, many of us shared with our compatriots on the night how this movement, and others like it, is symptomatic of something deep and profound emerging within us, our teams, our organizations, our communities: an emancipation of our innate human potential from the imprisonment of yesterday’s logic (the logic of trade-offs, of take-make-waste linearity, of Social Darwinist separateness and dog-eat-dog competition). Forward-thinking folk know only too well the carcinogenic corrosiveness of narrowly focusing on shareholder value, short-term profit maximisation, dominate-or-be-dominated dictums and self-serving strategies. And so, at one level, this B-Corp amendment of corporate constitution is simply good business sense getting the better of our individualistic insanity.

flower & butterfly

John Elkington (founder of Volans and the originator of the triple-bottom-line concept back in 1994) points out that capitalism must now transform its out-dated mind-sets, metrics and measures in order to adapt to future landscapes now drawing near. In the same breath, this shift afoot speaks to something quite beyond anything the metricizing mind is capable of capitalizing. The very dominance of the metricizing mind a hallmark of yesterday’s logic, not that of our emerging future. Yes we need holistic metrics, yet what is emerging here is quite beyond metrics.

Breakfast seminars, think tanks, conferences, research papers, expert roundtables and evening launch parties espouse ‘hot topics’ (purposeful business, managing complexity, CSR, climate change, the Millennial Age, wellbeing at work, regenerative economics, conscious leadership, and so on). These ‘hot topics’ are not disparate issues competing for our attention; they are all symptoms of a shift in our organizing logic and underlying worldview, a metamorphosis which calls forth a deeper perception of how we relate with ourselves, each other and the very fabric of life. So often, fighting through our frenetic schedules, we miss the forest for the trees; we narrow-in on the fragments and symptoms while overlooking the inter-relational profundity of these paradigmic times. Our very ideologies underpinning how we operate and organize are being replaced; our sense of place and purpose in the world is being challenged at deep and partly unconscious levels, testing and challenging us while emancipating and evolving us toward richer and wiser outcomes.

Put simply, the old worldview has had its day, no longer capable of dealing with the challenges and dynamisms now upon us; a new one is being born amid its breakdown. The future of business is our waking up to the reality that our organizations are living, emergent systems immersed within our living, emergent social systems immersed within the emergent inter-relationality of our more-than-human world. Firms of the future flourish in these volatile times by embracing unceasing transformation while remaining true to what it really means to be human. The more aligned we become to our true nature, and to the true nature of life, the more we consciously allow our naturally creative, heartfelt, soulful, passionate and compassionate ways of organizing and operating to take root in our organizations. This is the birthing of a new evolutionary stage of human consciousness no less. What an exciting time to be engaged the future of business.

Thought leader, author and adviser Giles Hutchins is co-hosting a unique collective inquiry into Good Business at Schumacher College, UK on 2nd-6th November.

To explore ‘the new paradigm’ further, join the Face Book community here


An Artful Inquiry into a Deeper Ecology of Business

September 14, 2015

Five o’clock in the morning and the sky’s already an awesome array of vibrant pinks, oranges and mellow yellows. Rainbow-tinted fluffy clouds gently clearing away to reveal what becomes a gloriously hot English summer’s day. Next to me as I sit amid mammoth trees in the beautiful grounds of Ashridge Business School is a young female deer, both of us entranced by each other’s glance.

By 8.30am a gaggle of eighteen intrepid and experienced participants settle in the comfortable surrounds of the lounge for light refreshments. A diverse cohort of corporate pioneers and cultural creatives are quick to form a tribe of kindred spirits, sharing and exploring with humility and courage on our mini-quest; blending heady business content and shared experiences with soulful, somatic exercises.

 ‘A workshop full of insight and wisdom delivered in such a concise and accessible way’ – participant feedback

What were the objectives and intended outcomes of this workshop? Our intention was to reach beyond the symptomatic surface into the deeper metamorphosis underway in our ways of operating and organising; to hold a space for an artful inquiry into ways of being and doing that aid the transformation of our organisations from firms of the past (top-down, hierarchic, command-and-control, silo’ed, KPI-obsessed, monolithic monocultures) to firms of the future (living, emergent, diverse, networked, anti-fragile, locally-attuned, soulful organisations). For this the context and content of the workshop formed around playing with the tensions of inner-outer and being-doing.

‘Fascinating subject with a good balance of theory and bodywork’ – participant feedback

The inner dimension explored our personal transformations, the challenges, experiences and practices of opening ourselves up to deeper ways of being and doing in the workplace. The outer dimension explored the relational challenges and tensions of transforming the cultural mind-set from firm-of-the-past logic (take-make-waste linearity, short-termism, control-based ego-dominator approaches) to more self-organising, empowering, embodied, eco-systemic spiritually-aware partnership approaches required by firms of the future. It is here that we sense how future-fit organisations cannot just be materially and functionally inspired by Nature (enter biomimetic design, cradle-to-cradle, closed-loop economics, industrial ecology and so forth) but also need to be resonant with the metaphysical rhythms and wisdom Nature affords us (enter eco-psychology, somatic awareness, eco-systemic presencing, heart entrainment, phenomenology, shamanic business, conscious leadership and the re-cognition and re-membering of our soulful sense of place and purpose in a deeply sentient world).

This artful inquiry revealed the need for a shift not just in ways of relating and doing but also in our underlying mythological and philosophical worldview, a shift at deep and partly unconscious levels in how we ‘prehend’ (to use Alfred North Whitehead’s term), how we intuit and perceive ourselves, each other and the more-than-human world. Examples and insights were drawn from the books The Nature of Business (which explores firms of the future as businesses inspired by Nature) and The Illusion of Separation (which explores the philosophical and metaphysical implications of this metamorphosis as we step towards a deeper ecology of business).

‘Such a powerful, lovely and deeply wise workshop’ – participant feedback

Clearly there is only so much one can explore in a 9am-3.30pm window while seeking to balance ways of being and doing, inner and outer exploration, participant sharing and networking with concepts, frameworks and tools. If we were to run something similar again we would do things differently, not least finish at 5.30pm or even invite people to join us the evening before. And we were blessed on this magical day with outstanding weather, beautiful surrounds and a wonderful cohort consciously willing to engage open heartedly in a smorgasbord of activities.


What got this all started was a long and energising walk across Dartmoor in the spring haze and April showers with Chris Nichols of Ashridge, to whom I am indebted.  During my time at Ashridge I sensed a business school that really ‘gets it’ when it comes to understanding the importance of education rooted in artful inquiry, action research and holistic ways of knowing, exploring beyond the superficial and silo’ed regurgitation of yesterday’s logic. And since that summer’s day I have regularly recommended and referred to the good work of Ashridge, for instance in this recently published Opinion Paper on Redefining the Nature of Business in the Millennial Age.

It was a great honour to explore and share with consciously-aware participants and to work with the talented facilitators Debbie Warrener and Daniel Ludevig as well as case study presenter Chris Randall of Heart-in-Business, not to mention Chris Nichols and Vicki Brown of Ashridge whose support behind the scenes and on the day helped it all sing.

Giles Hutchins and Chris Nichols, amongst others, are running a residential short course at Schumacher College, Dartington Hall on Good Business on 2nd-6th November, you can book here.

Giles Hutchins  is a recognised thought leader, speaker and adviser, applying twenty years of experience to his work at individual and organisational levels.  He blogs at and is author of the books The Nature of Business and The Illusion of Separation.

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Times Like These Beckon Us Beyond The Surface Into The Deep

September 3, 2015

There are a multitude of factors contributing to these winds of change blowing through our times. Describing these turbulent, transformative times is the now trendy managerial acronym VUCA (Volatile Uncertain Complex Ambiguous) – in short, business-as-usual (‘BAU’) is no longer an option for organisations wishing to flourish in 2020 and beyond.


Conferences, think-tanks, research papers, workshops, forums and expert roundtables across the globe are exploring the implications these shifts have on how we operate and organise. Yet, through our well-intended desire to find solutions to our pressing problems, we all-too-often find ourselves caught up in the very mind-set that contributed to them in the first place. We address our sea of challenges at face-value and in silo’ed superficial ways, skimming over the deeper inter-relational corruptions these problems are symptomatic of.


By example, let’s take a look at the following 4 ‘symptoms’:


  • Sustainability/CSR: on the surface, this is about being more efficient, effective, responsible and future-fit in a volatile world of finite resources precariously pressed up against natural limits. And so we embrace ‘new ways of doing’ such as industrial ecology, circular economics, biomimicry, green chemistry and so forth, all within the frame and focus of CSR or responsible business programmes. At a deeper level, this is challenging our prevalent mechanistic and anthropocentric logic. It is revealing the need for a shift from ‘take-make-waste’ linearity to ‘regenerative’ holistic approaches. This shift prompts us to ask the deeper questions of: In what context are we creating and delivering value? Can we move beyond merely reducing negative impact into becoming regenerative? To whom or what are we in service of? Why are we here? With this, begins a deeper philosophical (yet no less practical) inquiry into our sense of place and purpose within the fabric of Life.


  • Mindfulness/Wellbeing-at-work: on the surface, this is about stress reduction and morale improvement, and about being healthier mentally and emotionally, being more creative, resourceful and resilient, so that we become future-fit at the individual, team and organisational dimensions. And so we embrace ‘new ways of being’ such as meditation, deep listening, non-violent communication, somatic awareness, contemplative practices, presencing and so forth all within the frame and focus of mindfulness-in-the-workplace programmes. At a deeper level, this is challenging our acculturated perspective of self-agency rooted in yesterday’s logic of separateness, control and competition. It is revealing the need for a shift from an overly extractive and domineering yang ‘ego-awareness’ to a more balanced and inclusive yin-yang ‘eco-awareness’ (eco = ‘ecological’ also ‘ecosystem’: whereas ‘ego-awareness’ brings a heightened sense of ‘self’ as separate from and in competition with neighbourhood, ‘eco-awareness’ opens our perception up to the deeper ‘inter-being’ of our neighbourhood and with it a more empathic and ecosystemic relation.) This shift prompts us to ask the deeper questions of: Who am I? Why am I here? What is my soul-calling? With this comes a deeper philosophical shift away from an essentially competition-orientated, individualistic worldview towards a quest for understanding and harmonising with the deeper somatic, social and spiritual rhythms of Life.


  • The Millennial Age: (see this hot-of-the-press report here on Redesigning The Nature of Business for the Millennial Age ) on the surface, this is about applying social media, creative commons and open source approaches in order to be more social, creative, passionate and collaborative in our workplaces. At a deeper level, this points to personal and collective emancipation from economic enslavement towards meaningful work, authenticity and freedom. It is revealing a shift from a control-based hierarchical logic to a more partnership-based one. This shift prompts us to ask the deeper questions of: What are my gifts and what do I most deeply love? How can I bring the best of myself – playful passions, quirks and all – into the workplace? Can my worktime actually be a joyful artful enquiry, a playtime that enhances my own growth and development while serving life? With this comes a deeper philosophical shift away from the economics of ‘work-life balance’ to immersing oneself in a community of shared passion and purpose. ( see this report here for more on this)


  • Purposeful Business: at a superficial level this is about fostering and communicating, internally across the organisation and externally through public relations, a shared sense of value and ethics in the workplace beyond short-term profit maximisation. At a deeper level, this trend points to an underlying need in each and every-one of us to take part in something that touches our heart-and-soul with meaning beyond the mere materiality of life. It is revealing the need for a shift from an overly materialistic logic to a more soulful sense of contributing to something greater. This shift prompts us to ask the deeper questions of: How do I wish to live my life? What values and behaviours do I wish to embody? How does the organisation I am working for enhance my humanity and deeper sense of purpose? With this comes a deeper philosophical shift away from ‘work for works sake’ to heartfelt, artful and purposeful work that enhances our humanity.


In other words, these winds of change are ushering in a shift in consciousness with profound consequences for our humanity.


A Metamorphosis In Our Midst


In the early stages of a pupa’s metamorphosis, cells quite different from the caterpillar organise into groups. These ‘imaginal cells’ run up against the opposition of the old caterpillar’s immune system, which perceives them as a threat to the caterpillar’s existence. Over time, as the system of the old caterpillar begins to break down, these new formations spawn forth the structures, processes and logic of the butterfly; ditto for the metamorphosis in our midst.


‘In times of great winds, some build bunkers, others build windmills’ Chinese proverb


As we begin to embark on this deeper quest of  our humanity, we may begin to realise that what prevents us from fully realising our potential – and from fully loving ourselves, each other and our more-than-human world – is our own habituated, acculturated, constricting, narrowing-down perspectives that hold us, imprison us, in an illusion of separation. To break out of this illusion of our own creation, a shift in consciousness is all we need, a subtle and simple shift in how we perceive ourselves in this deeply wise and sacred world.


It is with this simple – yet not necessarily easy – shift in awareness that we begin to realise our true nature and embark on the quest of becoming human.


‘Without a global revolution in the sphere of human consciousness the catastrophe towards which the world is headed will be unavoidable’ Vaclav Havel, Czech prime minister addressing US Congress


Becoming human in a firm of the future is about a twofold shift: 1) personal gnosis 2) organisational gnosis. For the ancient Greeks, gnosis meant an embodied knowing, a transformation in which we know who we truly are, awakening to our true nature beyond artifice and illusion.


‘Understanding the illusion only comes after the understanding of reality, not before…Until we have the experience of reality, in all its stillness, we are still lost.’

Peter Kingsley, contemporary philosopher and mystic

This is what these transformational times ask of us; whether we are accountants or activists, engineers or entrepreneurs, musicians or midwives, these winds of change are signalling a metamorphosis within ourselves, our organisations and our societies. It’s time to begin our quest and dive below superficial materiality and swim the wild yet wise, synchronistic soulful currents of grace.


‘In the wild waters of the world, the fish does not go under. It is in its element. Amidst the unpredictable it swims in grace.’ Catherine Keller, professor of constructive theology

To explore ‘the new paradigm’ further, join the Face Book community here And here you can watch two short videos about The Illusion of Separation and The Nature of Business

Catalyzing the Great Turning by Re-membering the Mind of Nature

July 24, 2015

In 1984 E.O.Wilson’s ‘biophilia hypothesis’ brought the West’s scientific attention to the psychical, as well as physical, inter-relation we have with Nature: humans have a deep urge to love our fellow kinship and natural neighbourhood.

Since then there have been numerous studies pointing to the deleterious effect our sense of separation from Nature has on us, along with the regenerative effect Nature has on our ability to flourish in wholesome ways. Western science is on the cusp of the dawning realisation that our sense of separation from Nature creates dis-ease causing a great number of the problems littering our culture today.

‘The modern condition of soiling our nest reflects how we’ve become dissociated from our somas, our communities, and the Earth itself. This has become a pathological condition so widespread that we think of it as normal…When we feel ourselves as part of Nature we invoke a vast intelligence that is both deeply spacious and deliriously ecstatic. When we tie in with the life force it rights us from our distractions and reconnects us to the rapture of life.’ Richard Strozzi-Heckler.

This sense of separation from Nature is what the anthropologist Gregory Bateson referred to as an ‘original corruption’ setting us up for an evolutionary cul-de-sac of selfish ascendance.  It fuels hubris, he says, whereupon common sense becomes insanity.

Learning how to open up to our essential nature and to our deeper Nature within and all around us is the most radical of undertakings for our evolution as flourishing beings.

nature sust3

Wisdom traditions the world over have long understood Nature’s wisdom (using different names for this Pleroma: Sophia, Akasha, Divine Ground, Aluna, Shekinah, Tao, Indra’s Net). It is the same phenomenon that quantum physicists are now grappling to comprehend in exploring the existence of an all-pervasive potent presence; an intangible formlessness which gives birth to energy and form; they call it the quantum vaccum, zero-point energy field or dark energy and it pervades everything, nothing is separate from it.

kali 5

The Kogi – an indigenous tribe of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta – are an ancient society upholding the sacred wisdom of Nature which, for them is a sacred embodiment of Aluna – the Great Mother that gives birth to and nurtures the entire Cosmos, and ourselves within it. The embodiment of Aluna is central to their sense of place and purpose in this world. They wish to re-mind us of the grave danger we face in not honouring this wisdom of life.

For the Kogi – along with other shamanic cultures and ancient wisdom traditions the world over –  the Mind of Nature (Aluna) is a deeply wise matrix, a cosmic womb or collective archetypal field from which creative energy spawns forth in a process of unfolding evolution. Each moment is an unfolding participatory dance of our conscious awareness co-creating within this Cosmic Intellect. To resonate with the innate rhythms, patterns, tensions and harmonies within and all around us, is to become conscious expressions of this Nature whereupon our sense of place and purpose in this life can be heard in our hearts. To be unaware of, or de-sensitised, to this wisdom is to allow ourselves to become out-of-tune and adrift from this deeper resonance. With this dis-ease we fall prey to polluting thoughts, emotions and belief-patterns, and find ourselves caught up in the contagion of consumerism now plaguing us.  For the Kogi, re-membering this rhythm of Nature is the beginning of righting ourselves and our societies.


All our actions and interactions are immersed within this sentient sea of sacredness and to bring this awareness into our everyday understanding of life is to awaken the sacred within and all around us; a dawning of our destiny as Homo sapiens – wise beings. This is the ‘Great Turning’ from our current carcinogenetic culture to one that flourishes in harmony with life.

From as early as I can recall, I have always sensed this ‘ground of being’ from which everything in life is immersed and nourished. While the ‘life feeds on life’ reality I see all around and within me often perplexes me, there is never a doubt that I am ‘biophilically’ in love with life, in awe of its unfathomable beauty, enchanted by its wisdom, perplexed by its paradoxes. On occasions my everyday consciousness is enriched, if for the briefest of moments, by this wisdom in our midst. I know that what prevents me from fully living and fully loving are my own ingrained habituations and acculturations picked up from living in this carcinogenic culture. And I know it is nothing but my quality of attention and intention that can emancipate my mind-set from this acculturation.

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Whether we choose to believe in Aluna or not is not the question here. This question is: Do you fancy living in a culture that enhances our greatness or undermines it; a culture that teaches us to love life or vandalise it; a culture that celebrates or denigrates our sense of place and purpose in this world?

We do not need to impose another ideology or set of beliefs onto reality.  Instead, we need to hold space for opening our attention individually and collectively – this way we can allow the truth to emerge from our souls.  There is no better time and place than the situation we find ourselves in for us to open our hearts and minds to Nature, to humbly listen to rather than hubristically seeking domination and control over Her. The call of Aluna is here and the metamorphosis is in our midst.

Giles Hutchins is author of The Illusion of Separation and The Nature of Business

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Steps Towards A Deeper Way of Life

July 20, 2015

Linear thinking and its rationalising objectification provides an important tool for us, helping us abstract our thinking from the here-and-now for analysis, planning, forecasting, scientific empirical examination and material exploitation. This thinking has helped us construct our civilizations.  No problem, unless this way of attending begins to dominate and so crowds out our other ways of knowing (sensing, feeling, embodying, intuiting).

simon Jung's mandala

The ‘thinking tool’ has a grasping tendency that, if left unchecked, usurps our attention to such an extent that we lose touch of the deeper wisdom within and all around us – we perceive only the abstractions of our analysing mind, missing the wood for the trees.

‘We have created a sufficiently strong propensity not only to make divisions in knowledge where there are none in Nature, and then to impose the divisions on Nature, making the reality thus comfortable to the idea, but to go further, and to convert the generalisations made from observation into positive entities, permitting for the future these artificial creations to tyrannise over the understanding.’  Henry Maudsley

With this come out-of-kilter perspectives that bring us out of conscious attunement with life’s rhythms and wisdom. We begin to find it harder to align with our deeper sense of self-other-Nature. And so our relations warp from the inherently empathic, biophilic, compassionate nature of Homo sapiens into portraying only the self-absorbing egotistic-traits of selfishness, greed, competition and narcissism.  So caught up in our own self-reflexive ego-chattering illusions we become, that we increasingly numb ourselves from embodying the deeper intrinsic inter-relational reality of life.

Alas, this is what is happening on a global scale with deleterious consequences for all life on Earth. Any meaningful transition towards a more sustainable and civilized future for humanity needed to involve our re-membering a more balanced way of attending to life: yin/yang, receptive/responsive, open/closed, flowing/specific, dynamic/objectified, presencing/abstract, intuitive/rational, feminine/masculine, and so forth.

‘The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, the rational mind its faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift’. Albert Einstein


This re-balancing allows us to contribute to a rebalancing in our organisations, communities, socio-economics and ways of governing.

There are a great variety of ways to enhance a more balanced yin-yang, receptive-responsive awareness in our lives. For example: bringing more stillness into our busy minds by sitting quieting, feeling the space between our heart-beats, feeling the in and out breath in our nostrils, meditating, chanting, drawing, playing a musical instrument, dancing, reading or writing poetry, practicing somatic awareness, yoga, Qi Kong, T’ai Chi, etc.  And there are ways to bring this more embodied awareness into the workplace too – hence the work on Steps Towards a Deeper Ecology of Business we explored recently at Ashridge Business School.

7s ways of being & doing

For me, I like immersing myself in the natural world, finding stillness within the movements of Nature, along with some gentle T’ai Chi and yoga movements. The more I develop this deeper sense of presence the more noticeable it is when my rationalising, abstracting and often distracting ego monkey-mind interferes and so the more conscious I can be in allowing my rational mind to serve as a useful tool rather than trying to dominate.

Feeling the creative energy within my bodymind helps me re-member that I (like all expression of Nature) am energy. This energetic presence within (and all around me) is receptive and responsive. I can enhance this receptivity and responsiveness by attuning my bodymind through developing what is often referred to as ‘heart-awareness’ due to our bodyminds finding their centre-of-awareness in the heart area.

The Heart – A Powerful Organ of Perception

Much research has been undertaken into the heart as an organ of perception (along with the gut and brain, also increasing scientific recognition that each and every cell in our bodies contains mind-matter aspects with capacity for sentience and memory).  The heart is the body’s most powerful electromagnetic sensor and transmitter, continually decoding the vast array of electromagnetic and quantum signals radiating in our lived-in environment. 65% of the cells in the heart are neural cells which are wired into the nervous system, gut and brain.

The heart governs our bodymind’s sensory, neural, nervous and instinctual systems. There is now scientific evidence pointing to the heart perceiving and decoding intuitive information from our surrounds first and foremost (‘direct perception’) and then updating the brain and gut, which then respond to this information – hence, intuitive feelings, premonitions and also ESP phenomena are detected through the direct perception of the heart (see one such scientific study here).


While much of this continual and participatory dialogue with the world around us happens beyond the perceptual horizon of our conscious awareness, as we develop ‘heart-awareness’ we can allow ourselves to become more conscious of this deeper way of knowing. And with this comes a richer sense of perceiving subtle fluctuations in our bodymind’s capacity for knowing – our ‘somatic awareness’ which embodiment activities aim to enhance. Developing heart-awareness, therefore, enriches our intuitive mind and also enriches our embodied ways of sensing and responding with the world around and within us.

Studies have proven that becoming more conscious of our heart-awareness has healing effects on our bodymind: invoking feelings of love through our hearts can shift us from a state of dis-ease towards wellbeing, with hormonal changes and alterations in our brain-wave patterns (alpha, beta, gamma frequencies). As we become more practiced at developing heart-awareness, we can develop what is called ‘heart entrainment’, where our brain-wave patterns become coherent across our left and right brain hemispheres and also entraining within our heart and gut centres. With this comes the immediate benefits of heightened mental clarity, improved decision making, increased responsiveness and resiliency to changes, efficiency of energy use, increased creativity and innovation, along with improved emotions of general happiness, empathy, compassion and conviviality – all important contributors in shifting our organisations towards more resilient, purposeful, joyous firms of the future!

The following heart-entrainment exercise is a simple yet powerful way to ignite this foundation for living with love.  This practice requires no credit card only our quality of intention and attention.

Heart Entrainment Exercise (based on The HeartMath Institute, see their quick coherence technique here):

Step 1 – Heart-breathing:  focus your attention on the heart. Place your hands upon your heart and use your imagination to feel yourself inhaling and exhaling in and out through the heart, and through your hands on your heart.  Spend a few moments heart breathing in and out through the heart area; taking deeper breaths as you relax. This helps shift attention from busy mental chatter into the heart area.

Step 2 – Activate a loving feeling:  by remembering a loving memory, perhaps a special place or pet you once had or have, or something you love doing, like listening to a favourite song or the feeling you have when immersed in your favourite hobby, or making love.  Use your imagination to conjure up this feeling of love within your heart area, while continuing to undertake the heart-breathing in Step 1. And then allow this loving feeling to wash over your whole body.

Step 3 – While breathing deeply and allowing this loving feeling to fill your entire bodymind, repeat a simple affirmation over and over atleast five times in your mind, or whispering with your lips, or out loud if your situation allows.  As long as the affirmation is love-based, it will help shift psychological blocks within you and allow you to open up to deeper heart entrainment.  A simple affirmation could be ‘I am able to fully love myself’.  After all, we struggle to ‘love thy neighbour’ when we are unable to fully ‘love thy self’, the two are interdependent on each other, and so loving ourselves and opening up to love is vital in shifting our way of relating from fear/control/separation to compassion/nurturing/inter-being.

The Heart-in-Business activities of Thornton’s Budgets in Belsize Park is a good example of bringing this heart-based, soulful awareness into the workplace with profound benefits.

This ‘power of love’ is ‘radical sustainability’ because it goes to the root cause of our unsustainable way of behaving by shifting how we attend to life: from separation to synchronicity, from power over to power with, from ego to ecological/inter-relational.  From this foundation an attitude of criticism and condemnation transforms into one of nurturing and encouraging. Our enthusiasm for life becomes infectious.

Compassion can be understood as the active principle which fuels our empathic resonance through love, in-so-doing nourishing and nurturing others.  The more we give with love, the more we receive with love.

butterfly true

By consciously opening our doors of perception beyond the narrow-mindedness of rationalistic, anthropocentric materialism we learn to reconnect with the wisdom within and all around us, in-so-doing we gain a deeper sense of intimacy, love and meaning in our lives.  This is the beginning of our future, unfettered by yesterday’s logic of separation, competition and domination.

Radical Activism: Activating the power of love; shifting our awareness of the everyday moments: this is the front-line in our transformation towards a sustainable future. Now, more than ever, we need to re-member the profound logic of the heart.

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